GM crops banned in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said he is prohibiting the cultivation of genetically-modified (GM) crops in the country.

The minister’s announcement follows the recent EU decision to allow member states to opt out of growing approved GM crops within their territories.

“I remain unconvinced of the advantages of GM crops, and I consider it prudent to prohibit their cultivation here for the foreseeable future,” said Durkan, speaking at the launch of Environment Week in Parliament Buildings last week.

“The pattern of land use here and the relatively small size of many agricultural holdings creates potential difficulties if we were to seek to keep GM and non-GM crops separate. I consider that the costs of doing so could potentially be significant and, in many cases, totally impractical.

“Further, we are rightly proud of our natural environment and rich biodiversity. We are perceived internationally to have a clean and green image. I am concerned that the growing of GM crops, which I acknowledge is controversial, could potentially damage that image.”

In August, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced that the growing of GM crops would not be permitted in Scotland.